There’s little to say about Philly’s roads that hasn’t already been said; driving here is not for the faint of heart. A recent crash in Fishtown, where a car ended up grill-first in a construction site, provides a striking illustration.
The incident took place Wednesday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of Frankford Avenue and Oxford Street. The driver of the upside-down car, a 2009 Honda Accord, was taken to Jefferson Hospital and placed in stable condition, according to PPD Ofc. Miguel Torres.
A video surfaced on social media shortly — along with photos that seemed to defy physics.
The vehicle’s rear poked out of the concrete footing, with the car body visibly cracking what appeared to be a new building foundation. Leaning inside the angular crater, inclined against the below-ground masonry, the car looked like a downed spacecraft. Its rear bumper lay a few feet away from its body, likely better preserved than whatever remains of the bumper in front.
How’d it get there? According to the video posted by Instagram user @jack_deeves, a car appearing to be rushing south on Frankford was hit on the side rear by another vehicle easing out from Oxford. The southbound vehicle spun out, ran over the fence, traveled around the under-construction lot next to the restaurant Suraya, lofted into the construction foundation, and then came to rest.
The site is 1538 Frankford Ave., where a four-story, mixed use structure with a roof deck is under construction, per city records. Paul Kreamer of Philadelphia is listed as the contractor for the job.
There are no specific requirements for construction to erect fencing or barriers that can withstand a car crashing into it, per a city spokesperson. An L&I inspector was already performing regular inspections at the site, the spokesperson said. The cracked foundation will need to be repaired before anything can be built atop of it.
The road itself is already considered dangerous by many in the area.
“That’s a tough part [of Frankford],” said Jonathan Geeting, president of the Fishtown Neighbors Association and road safety advocate. “There’s not a stop sign there, or a crosswalk.”
Fishtown residents have made several efforts to implement traffic control measures along the roadway as it blossomed into a commercial corridor, Geeting said. One of the prevailing issues: Frankford Avenue is under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation.
“It’s listed as a state highway and it’s treated as a state highway,” said Geeting.
By the books, the primary purpose of the road is swift, efficient, movement of vehicles. In reality, it’s a walkable cluster of commercial properties, dotted with public gathering spots like Palmer Park (and before it opened to cars, the roundabout).
Neighbors have been able to push forward changes along Frankford, like in 2016, when new crosswalks and stop signs were set up at Frankford Avenue, Thompson Street and Shackamaxon Street.
“The only times the community has been able to prevail over the official engineer opinion about this is when we’ve gotten elected officials involved,” said Geeting, noting that these wins are often years in the making.
World (and road) weary Philadelphians were part of a social media chorus quipping about the accident, seen as another element of the seemingly anarchic reality of traversing Philly’s streets.